Prostate cancer is a malignant disease that affects men’s reproductive system. The prostate gland is located below the bladder, near the rectum and surrounding the urethra. The disease develops when the cells of the prostate start to grow out of control, on contrary to the healthy cells, which normally divide and die. The most common symptoms of prostate cancer include problems passing urine, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night, blood in the urine, erectile dysfunction, pain in the hips, back, chest, or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones, and weakness or numbness in the limbs.
While prostate cancer is the second most common among men in the United States, there is treatment for the disease. The choice of treatment depends on many factors, such as patient’s age and expected lifespan, any other severe health conditions, the stage and grade of the cancer, patient’s and physician’s feelings and opinions about the need to treat the cancer right away and potential side effects, as well as likelihood that each type of treatment will cure the cancer. Treatment options to address prostate cancer include expectant management (watchful waiting) or active surveillance, surgery, radiation therapy, cryosurgery (cryotherapy), hormone therapy, vaccine treatment, bone-directed treatment, and chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy for Patients with Prostate Cancer
Chemotherapy is a course of treatment to address cancer based on the injection of anti-cancer drugs into a vein or through its administration by ingestion. The chemotherapy drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body in order to kill the cancerous cells. It is not usually the first course of treatment for patients with prostate cancer, but it may be an option for patients whose cancer has metastasized to other organs rather than just the prostate, or when hormone therapy is not working. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the drugs Docetaxel (Taxotere®), Cabazitaxel (Jevtana®), Mitoxantrone (Novantrone®), Estramustine (Emcyt®), Doxorubicin (Adriamycin®), Etoposide (VP-16), Vinblastine (Velban®), Paclitaxel (Taxol®), Carboplatin (Paraplatin®), and Vinorelbine (Navelbine®) for chemotherapy in the USA.
The American Cancer Society explains that “chemo is not a standard treatment for early prostate cancer, but some studies are looking to see if it could be helpful if given for a short time after surgery. Doctors give chemo in cycles, with each period of treatment followed by a rest period to allow the body time to recover. Each cycle typically lasts for a few weeks. (…) In most cases, the first chemo drug given is docetaxel, combined with the steroid drug prednisone. If this drug does not work (or stops working), cabazitaxel is often the next chemo drug tried (although there may be other treatment options as well). Both of these drugs have been shown to help men live several months longer, on average, than older chemo drugs. They may slow the cancer’s growth and also reduce symptoms, resulting in a better quality of life. Still, chemotherapy is very unlikely to cure prostate cancer.”
Benefits and Risks of Prostate Cancer Chemotherapy
Despite the fact that chemotherapy is not usually the first option, it has been proven effective in helping patients with prostate cancer. Chemotherapy drugs attack the cancerous cells that are dividing fast, resulting in improvements in the patient’s condition. “Over the last 10 years, chemotherapy drugs have helped patients who have prostate cancer that has spread. Overall survival rate increased with new drugs. Chemotherapy boosts the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. Because chemotherapy improves survival and relieves symptoms of advanced prostate cancer, if your cancer has spread you may be a good candidate for this treatment,” adds the Urology Care Foundation.
However, chemotherapy is also an aggressive approach, and it has several risks and side effects that need to be taken into consideration. Chemotherapy attacks not only cancerous cells, but also other cells, including the ones in the bone marrow, the lining of the mouth and intestines, and the hair follicles. Therefore, patients may experience hair loss, mouth sores, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, increased chance of infections related to low levels of white blood cells, easy bruising or bleeding related to low levels of blood platelets, and fatigue due to low levels of red blood cells. In the majority of the cases, the side effects stop as soon as the treatment is finished.
Note: Prostate Cancer News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.